Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Prudence

"There is no unmixed good in human affairs; the best principles, if pushed to excess, degenerate into fatal vices. Generosity is nearly allied to extravagance; charity itself may lead to ruin; the sternness of justice is but one step removed from the severity of oppression. It is the same in the political world; the tranquillity of despotism resembles the stagnation of the Dead Sea; the fever of innovation the tempests of the ocean It would seem as if, at particular periods, from causes inscrutable to human wisdom, a universal frenzy seizes mankind; reason, experience, prudence, are alike blinded; and the very classes who are to perish in the storm are the first to raise its fury." - Archibald Alison

"Embellish the soul with simplicity, with prudence, and everything which is neither virtuous nor vicious. Love all men. Walk according to God; for, as a poet hath said, his laws govern all." - Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

"[Wisdom] teacheth temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude." - Apocrypha NULL

"Moral virtue can be without some of the intellectual virtues, namely, wisdom, science and art, but not without understanding and prudence. Moral virtue cannot be without prudence, because moral virtue is habit of choosing, that is, making us choose well." -

"Prudence considers the means of acquiring happiness, but wisdom considers the very object of happiness." -

"Prudence is the necessary ingredient in all the virtues, without which they degenerate into folly and excess." - Jeremy Collier

"Courage is a virtue only so far as it is directed by prudence." - François Fénelon, fully Francois de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon

"The prudence of the best heads is often defeated by the tenderness of the best of hearts." - Henry Fielding

"To God we owe fear and love; to our neighbours justice and character; to our selves prudence and sobriety." - Benjamin Franklin

"In matters of conscience first thoughts are best; in matters of prudence last thoughts are best." - Robert Hall

"Prudence, temperance, strengthe, and right, The foure ben vertues principal." - Thomas Hoccleve

"Frugality may be termed the daughter of prudence, the sister of temperance, and the parent of liberty." -

"Prudence keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy." -

"Those who, in the confidence of superior capacities or attainments, neglect the common maxims of life, should be reminded that nothing will supply the want of prudence; but that negligence and irregularity, long continued will make knowledge useless, with ridiculous, and genius contemptible." -

"Genius always gives its best at first; prudence, at last." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"I consider it a mark of great prudence in a man to abstain from threats or any contemptuous expressions, for neither of these weaken the enemy, but threats make him more cautious, and the other excites his hatred, and a desire to revenge himself." - Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

"Humility, liberality, chastity, meekness, temperance, brotherly love, and diligence, are the virtues contrary to the Seven Capital Sins... Prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, are the Four Cardinal Virtues." - John McCaffrey

"Slow deliberation is but prudence." - Publius Syrus

"You will conquer more surely by prudence than by passion." - Publius Syrus

"Temper your enjoyments with prudence, lest there be written on your heart that fearful word "satiety."" - Francis Quarles

"Virtue is nothing but an act of loving that which is to be beloved, and that a t is prudence, from whence not to be removed by constraint is fortitude; not to be allured by enticements is temperance; not to be diverted by pride is justice." - Francis Quarles

"Nothing more unqualifies a man to act iwth prudence, than a misfortune that is attended with shame and guilt." - Jonathan Swift, pen names, M.B. Drapier, Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff

"A man who raises himself by degrees to wealth and power, contracts, in the course of this protracted labor, habits of prudence and restraint which he cannot afterwards shake off. A man cannot gradually enlarge his mind as he does his house." -

"Every virtue gives a man a degree of felicity in some kind: honesty gives a man a good report; justice, estimation; prudence, respect; courtesy and liberality, affection; temperance gives health; fortitude, a quiet mind, not to be moved by any adversity." - Francis Walsingham, fully Sir Francis Walsingham

"The melancholy prudence of the abandonment of such a great being as a man is to the toss and pallor of years of money making with all their scorching days and icy nights... is the great fraud upon modern civilization." - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Whatever satisfies souls is true; prudence entirely satisfies the craving and glut of souls, itself only finally satisfies the soul, the soul has that measureless pride which revolts from every lesson but its own." - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us; but simplicity and straight forwardness are. Write much as you would speak; speak as you think. If with your inferior, speak no coarser than usual; if with your superiors, no finer. Be what you say; and, within the rules of prudence, say what you are." - Vittorio Alfieri

"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner." -

"Before you think of retiring from the world, be sure you are fit for retirement; in order to which it is necessary that you have a mind so composed by prudence, reason, and religion, that it may bear being looked into; a turn to rural life, and a love of study." - James Burgh

"In matters of conscience first thoughts are best; in matter of prudence last thoughts are best." -

"Eloquence is power; because it is seeming prudence." - Thomas Hobbes

"If suicide be supposed a crime, it is only cowardice can impel us to it. If it be no crime, both prudence and courage should engage us to rid ourselves at once of existence when it becomes a burden." - David Hume

"Never speak by superlatives; for in so doing you will be likely to wound either truth or prudence. Exaggeration is neither thoughtful, wise, nor safe. It is a proof of the weakness of the understanding, or the want of discernment of him that utters it, so that even when he speaks the truth, he soon finds it is received with partial, or even utter disbelief." - David Hume

"It is not from reason and prudence that people marry, but from inclination." -

"Old age likes to dwell in the recollections of the past, and, mistaking the speedy march of years, often is inclined to take the prudence of the winter time for a fit wisdom of midsummer days. Manhood is bent to the passing cares of the passing moment, and holds so closely to his eyes the sheet of “to-day,” that it screens the “to-morrow” from his sight." - Louis Kossuth, also Lajos Kossuth, fully Lajos Kossuth de Udvard et Kossuthfalva

"Who makes quick use of the moment, is a genius of prudence." - Johann Kaspar Lavater

"The four cardinal virtues are prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice." - William Paley, Archdeacon of Saragossa

"Temperance is a virtue which casts the truest lustre upon the person it is lodged in, and has the most general influence upon all other particular virtues of any that the soul of man is capable of; indeed so general, that there is hardly any noble quality or endowment of the mind, but must own temperance either for its parent or its nurse; it is the greatest strengthener and clearer of reason, and the best preparer of it for religion, the sister of prudence, and the handmaid to devotion." - Robert South, fully Bishop Robert South

"Every year that I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not given, the power we have not used, the selfish prudence which will risk nothing, and which, shirking pain, misses happiness as well." - John B. Tabb, fully John Banister Tabb

"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them." -

"Let human prudence say what it likes and reason as it pleases, it is impossible to produce true temporal peace and tranquillity by things repugnant or opposed to the peace and happiness of eternity." - Silvio Antoniano

"Wisdom is the highest virtue, and it has in it four other virtues; of which one is prudence, another temperance, the third fortitude, the fourth justice." -

"Medieval churchmen… held that faith, hope and love are the fundamental Christian virtues and that the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude) are needed to express faith, hope and love in all the varying circumstances of life in the world." - R. E. C. Browne, fully Robert Eric Charles Browne

"Education should be constructed on two bases: morality and prudence. Morality in order to assist virtue, and prudence in order to defend you against the vices of others. In tipping the scales toward morality, you merely produce dupes and martyrs. In tipping it the other way, you produce egotistical schemers." - Nicolas Chamfort,fully Sébastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort, also spelled Nicholas

"Every day I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing and which, shirking pain, misses happiness as well." - Mary Cholmondeley

"Courage is a virtue only so far as it is directed by prudence." -

"If things are ever to move upward, someone must be ready to take the first step, and assume the risk of it. No one who is not willing to try charity, to try nonresistance as the saint is always willing, can tell whether these methods will or will not succeed. When they do succeed, they are far more powerfully successful than force or worldly prudence. Force destroys enemies; and the best that can be said of prudence is that it keeps what we already have in safety. But nonresistance, when successful, turns enemies into friends; and charity regenerates its objects." - William James

"Frugality may be termed the daughter of prudence, the sister of temperance, and the parent of liberty. Those that are extravagant will quickly become poor, and poverty will enforce dependence and invite corruption." - Samuel Johnson, aka Doctor Johnson

"The peace of God is peace within ourselves. The unrest of human life comes largely from our being torn asunder by contending impulses. Conscience pulls this way, passion that. Desire says, “Do this”; reason, judgment, prudence say “It is your peril if you do!” One desire fights against another. And so the man is rent asunder. There must be the harmonizing of all the being if there is to be real rest of spirit." - Alexander Maclaren